January 14, 2004

War On Terrorism Numbers I Wish I Had

In the War on Terror, the key metric that is not being measured is the regeneration rate of our enemy. This regeneration is accomplished via a 'funnel' process that would be familiar to anybody in sales. A certain number of people hear the pitch via ideologically compatible imams. A certain number of those who hear the pitch achieve a certain level of belief. A subset of that start taking part in smaller, more intense indoctrination groups, a smaller number become gung ho believers, a smaller number are recruited into organizations, a smaller number actually go through with terrorist action.

There are certain parts of the funnel (the bottom end) that are not very visible to the general public (though hopefully intelligence agencies know a great deal about it) but the top end can be viewed and should be highlighted because this is both the area that is the trickiest for governments to go after and the one where ordinary people can do the most good.

Imams (teachers) are the key. Those who preach an Islam that is consistent with equal rights pluralism are not only not a problem, but are key allies in the War on Terror. The general public needs to support them in the face of the death threats and actual violence such figures draw from Islamist imams. Who are these pro-violence, pro-terrorism imams? How many of them are there? How many imams are there in total?

All these questions are straight statistical news stories. There should be no reason that western nations' press corps haven't gone to the mosques and built up profiles on these imams at least as detailed as they have on the beliefs of the local town councilman. From diligent local reporting, you could assemble a statistical portrait of what is the local ideological balance of the muslim community and thus estimate how big is the terrorism funnel at its widest (and still legal) point. By supporting the imams who support pluralism, even those who are not muslim can have a real effect on narrowing that funnel which, in the end, will reduce the regeneration rate of Al Queda and company.

Posted by TMLutas at January 14, 2004 10:06 AM